On the eve of the apocalypse

Window snow

Having abandoned my post right through the presidential campaign and it’s aftermath, it’s probably time to dispatch a few thoughts on the eve of the “Mayan apocalypse”.   A good chunk of this three month silence has been due to a heaviness in my heart that’s bordered on depression.   Though I hate to admit it, the politics, injustice and deception of the world are sometimes more than I can bear, and it’s tempting to give up and dream of an easy way out.   After a week of unimaginable horror, disingenuous politics,  religious crazies, media sensationalism, and my Mother’s deteriorating memory, I almost wish I could believe in the Rapture end-game, or the Mayan apocalypse.  But I can’t.  I believe in the Kingdom.  I believe in hope for this world.  I believe the wolf will lie down with the lamb, that men will beat their swords into plowshares, that darkness and deception will be scattered by the light of God’s glory, and that peace will reign on the earth.   I believe that the Christ who came as a man is the King of a Kingdom that is silently growing in our midst.

Satan seems to busy himself with two great lies regarding the end times.  The first is that Jesus will never return, that the whole thing was only a fairy tale in the first place.  This is the lie he whispers to the unbelieving world.  “No worries.  None of it is real, so just carry on as you were”.  But the second lie gets air time right from our pulpits: “Jesus is coming to snatch you away from this cursed earth and to take you to heaven where you belong”.   This is the lie of gnosticism cloaked in the religion of the “Rapture”.   The trouble is, the “Rapture” is neither a victory for Jesus nor for us.   In the end it persuades us that Satan has so ruined the neighborhood that God’s only option is to burn it down and move us all to a “nicer community”.   What a lame ending to an epic story!

No… the real ending is full of triumph and glory, where the King vanquishes his ancient foe, brings heaven to earth, and restores all things back around to the way they were intended in the first place.   That day is on it’s way.  It began the moment the Son stepped into human flesh, and it will be consummated the day he returns to the earth He loves.   When the sun comes up tomorrow, know that the King stands towering over His creation, determined to keep His promise.

“For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the Lord will arise upon you, and his glory will be seen upon you.  And nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.”   (Isaiah 60:2-3)

11 thoughts on “On the eve of the apocalypse”

  1. This is by far one of the most encouraging things I have read in a long time. I have never quite understood or embraced rapture theology, so your reminder of Jesus’ ultimate victory comforts me. I also appreciate your honesty in the midst of your own trials–your writing reflects the kind of depth and flavor that is only released through “simmering.” Hang in there, Don, and thank you for sharing your refreshing thoughts with the rest of the weary stew!

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  2. Thanks for this wonderful reminder, Don. Longing with you…and working with you…to see His kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven. Blessings to you this Christmas from the Stevens family.

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  3. Amen, my friend. God’s way has always been to take His children through the trials, not out of them. Jesus led by example in Gethsemane when he cried out to God from his own agony, “…nevertheless, not my will but thine be done.” Over the years my students have asked me, “What do you believe about the Rapture?” I’ve answered, “I’ve asked God to make my faith strong enough to endure to the end, that He try me now that I might remain faithful then.” Anything else is escapism.

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  4. Bless you Don, I miss sitting under your teaching, I love hearing your thoughts, Since the week I had under you I have been seeking his Kingdom here . It has been a huge inspiration for me. Thankyou for your insite and courage to share. Be Blessed, Chris

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  5. AWESOME!! Your words, Don, are an encouragement and a blessing of hope. Thanks for sharing your heart, your hope, the Truth. Have a blessed and peaceful Christmas as you (and the rest of us) continue to wait in joyful anticipation for the coming of our King! 🙂 Susie

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  6. I do not believe in “the rapture,” but I do believe in a “burning down” (e.g. 2 Pet 3). Consider: we will have new, glorified bodies in the life to come, right? The present body (generally speaking) dies and decays. In the resurrection, physical bodies live in a physical world, but *en route to getting there* the present body dies awaiting renewal. So there is both continuity (my new body will be identifiably “me”) but also discontinuity (death + renewal). And speaking of “burning,” sometimes a forest fire is necessary to revitalize a forest. Is it not possible that what is true of the resurrected human body, and the regrown forest, is also true of the physical earth and of society as a whole? Namely, that the PROCESS by which “all things are made new” is not a continuous upward climb, but includes a death, and a restoration from that death, along the way?
    Upshot: Resurrection stories are not “lame”!

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  7. Hey Zach! Thanks for checking in on this, as well as on “Caesar Milan”. I agree with you regarding the “burning down.” When Jesus steps foot back into this world there will clearly be a burning destruction. We may differ in the details, but maybe not. (This is why I hope to spend more time hanging out with you!).

    I like your forest fire analogy. It’s wonderfully visual and useful. My expectation is that the burning will likely be more of a spiritual purge of the sinful world systems of greed, corruption, injustice, disease, and such, but probably not of the good, the beautiful and the true which has been deposited by the followers of Jesus along the way. I can’t imagine a good, loving Father who would take the humble cultural and artistic works of His children, trash them, and reinvent beauty all over again.

    But I hold these things loosely. My greatest contention is with the Rapture concept of total earth-destruction while the human race is transplanted into an eternal spiritual domain called “heaven”.

    (Upshot)
    Agreed… resurrection stories are certainly NOT lame. It is rather the rapture story as it is commonly understood which is lame. That story isn’t actually a resurrection story at all. It’s a story of us becoming less than we presently are; of being reduced to spiritual beings only, in a wholly spiritual world. I think we would agree that resurrection is a beautiful validation of our natural bodies.

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    1. Agreed that the notion of spirit bodies floating in heaven is not the Biblical vision of our eternal home with the Lord. On that point I love a 30 second clip from https://www.desiringgod.org/interviews/an-evening-of-eschatology at 33:18-33:45. What is neat about that exchange is that Jim Hamilton holds to a historic pre-millennial position [as does Piper, though he holds back as moderator], Sam Storms amillenial, and Doug Wilson post-millennial. Watching the whole video, there is much they disagree on. But to the question, “Do you all believe that the Lord Jesus is coming back physically, visibly, to reign some way or other ON THE EARTH forever?” they all answer, simply, unequivocally, straightforwardly, “Yes!”
      One thing I like about that clip is the demonstration that the ultimate picture of the consummated kingdom which I think you and I share is not tied to any particular eschatological camp. There are (non-trivial) disagreements about the path there, but the notion of where it is all ultimately headed “fits” within all the major camps, and is itself not really even a matter of historical theological debate as far as I know.

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      1. Actually, that clip I cited is very much worth watching from 33:18 up to the 45:00 mark. Again, what is great about it is not only the content of what they are saying, but the fact that these guys of otherwise very different eschatological persuasions are at least in complete agreement on all THESE things.

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